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World News: White House outlines plans to “get the guns”

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

White House readies gun-control plan as more children laid to rest
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The White House was set to reveal the first steps of a gun-control plan yesterday as the United States grieved for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in another wave of funerals.

The funerals scheduled for yesterday included those for four children, a teacher and the principal of the Connecticut school stormed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza on Friday. After shooting his mother at home, Lanza drove to the school and used a semi-automatic assault rifle to murder 20 children and six women.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead an effort to craft policies to reduce gun violence in a plan President Barack Obama was to lay out on Wednesday morning.

Obama was not expected to unveil policy decisions, but to outline how his administration will proceed, White House aides said. The move could signal that he will make the issue a second-term priority and add momentum to a national debate over tighter gun-control laws.

Obama has turned to Biden in the past to take a role in high-profile initiatives, including efforts on a deficit-reduction compromise with congressional Republicans in 2011.

The massacre of so many children, all of whom were just 6 or 7 years old, shocked the United States and the world and renewed debate over gun control in a nation where the right to bear arms is protected by the Constitution and is fiercely defended by many.

Around the globe, newspaper editorials from the Philippines to South Africa urged U.S. gun-control efforts and said they were long overdue.

“It takes no great deductive genius to understand the link: a violent individual with a gun will be more able to kill, and can kill more people, than a violent individual without a gun. Elsewhere in the world, tighter gun laws have been shown to save lives,” said an editorial in India’s The Hindu newspaper.

After the shooting spree at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, Lanza killed himself.

The family of the school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, invited mourners to visit at a local funeral home yesterday afternoon, though her burial was due to be private at an undisclosed time.

Another of the teachers, Victoria Soto, was among those to be buried yesterday.

Funerals were also scheduled for 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon, 7-year-old Daniel Barden and 6-year-old Caroline Previdi, while the family of 7-year-old Chase Kowalski invited mourners to a public visitation and prayer vigil.

The surviving children from Sandy Hook Elementary faced another day at home as school authorities and parents made plans for an eventual return to a different location – the unused Chalk Hill School in nearby Monroe, where a sign across the street read, “Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary!”

At Sandy Hook itself, well-wishers and mourners have left tributes such as candles, flowers and stuffed toys animals. A heavy rain that fell most of Tuesday had soaked many of them and extinguished some of the candles, leaving a smell of burned wax in the air as police continued their investigations inside.

They have said the investigation could take months and have revealed nothing yet about Lanza’s motive.

Well-wishers came to Newtown from as far afield as Iowa. Beth Howard said she had driven 17 hours from Eldon, Iowa, to see what she could do to help. She joined a group of people from New Jersey who decided to bake pies for residents of the town to show their solidarity and support.

“It has already made the trip worthwhile,” said Howard, describing the smiles she got from local residents.

The first of many funerals was held on Monday and two children were laid to rest on Tuesday. Most of the town’s schools reopened on Tuesday, but there was no immediate word on when the Sandy Hook students would be back in the classroom.

The impact of the shooting was felt in the business world on Tuesday when private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP said it would sell its investment in the company that makes the AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle that was used by Lanza.

The powerful gun-industry lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), broke its silence on Tuesday for the first time since the shootings, saying it was “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” and was “prepared to offer meaningful contributions” to prevent such massacres.

The NRA uses political pressure against individual lawmakers and others to press for loosening constraints on gun sales and ownership across the United States while promoting hunting and gun sports.

The group, which said it had not commented until now out of respect for the families and to allow time for mourning and an investigation, plans a news conference tomorrow.

The massacre prompted some Republican lawmakers to open the door to a national debate about gun control, a small sign of easing in Washington’s entrenched reluctance to seriously consider new federal restrictions.

— Reuters

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pfizer vaccine OK for US children 12-15, critics urge better use

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Children age 12-15 now deemed safe to received the Pfizer vaccine. (by Wikimedia)

While drug regulators authorised Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 in the US, critics are saying that the jabs would be more useful if sent to poor countries. The American Food and Drug Administration cleared the vaccine on Monday, saying that it was safe for children over the age of 12, and the US Centres for Disease Control will now convene an advisory committee to discuss the formal recommendation. But there are many countries where very vulnerable people still have not had access to any vaccine. Children are considered to have a minimal risk for Covid-19.

The head of the World Health Organisation spoke critically against vaccine diplomacy, the red tape and international negotiation that is slowing the distribution and administering of vaccines to other countries in need. The United States is one of many wealthy nations that have been able to quickly spread the vaccine throughout its population, with over 115 million people already fully vaccinated. The American economy is the world’s biggest, and thanks to the rapid vaccination, governmental authorities have begun to loosen restrictions related to Covid-19 and begin to revive the ailing economy.

President Joe Biden hailed the vaccine approval for children aged 12 to 15, saying that it was a promising development and will help the country fight against the Coronavirus. But the United States has been coming under increased pressure to aid in getting vaccines to less fortunate countries with greater need. The United States has recently joined the push to convince Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to release their intellectual property rights in order to allow other nations to produce vaccines locally.

Here in Thailand, Americans have been calling for the United States government to make arrangements for expats and citizens abroad to get vaccinated when they’re in countries that do not provide them with vaccines. At the same time, many frustrated Thai people with the means to travel to the US are participating in vaccine tourism, planning American vacations where they can get vaccinated.

The head of the European Medicines Agency believes that the EU will also approve the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, possibly within this month. The move will further help vaccination efforts it hopes to jumpstart European economies. As Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, the Justice Minister in Spain reminded people the coronavirus is not gone and they need to behave responsibly following the end of a six-month state of emergency there. People had responded by dropping masks and social distancing protocol to celebrate in the streets. Greece has reopened schools for younger children up to middle school and hopes to remain open from May 14th for the tourism season. Ireland also revoked domestic travel bans allowing people to move around the country more freely again.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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World

China sees slowest population growth since 1960’s despite relaxing 1 child policy

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Stock photo via Flickr

China is seeing the slowest amount of population growth since the 1960’s despite relaxing its 1 child policy. The birthrate has been in a steady decline since 2017, and its growth is being measured at 5.4% since the last census in 2010. The population has reached 1.41 billion, but that number is low due to the sluggish growth rate.

The newest figures point towards an ageing population with a large drop in the number of working age people in the nation. The number of people aged between 15 and 59 dropped 7%, while those over the age of 60 increased more than 5%. Beijing relaxed the 1 child policy back in 2016, but it has yet to see the effects of the change. Ning Jizhe, an official from the National Bureau of Statistics, seems confident, however, that the family planning change will work.

“The adjustment of China’s fertility policy has achieved positive results.”

Failing marriage rates have increased in recent years, along with couples struggling to financially support a child in major cities. Women are also choosing to delay having children, or avoiding it altogether. China recorded its slowest birthrate since 1949 in 2019, at 10.48 per 1,000 people. In February of 2021, preliminary data indicated that the birthrate for 2020 was also down, but official findings have yet to be disclosed.

10 years ago the average size of a family was 3.10, but now, it is 2.62 people. As China’s society evolves, more and more people are choosing to live in urban areas. 63% of Chinese people reside in urban areas, increasing the urban population to 236.4 million, a 15% increase from the last census. But 500 million are part of what Beijing has termed, the “floating population” which is comprised of migrant workers living in other places than what they officially registered as their home.

The 2020 survey was conducted by sending out over 7 million volunteers to survey residents door-to-door. This year, however, most of the data was collected online.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Flight booking data shows vaccinations are key to rebooting travel globally

Maya Taylor

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Greece, ready to welcome vaccinated travellers. PHOTO: Flickr/Pedro Szekely

The latest findings from a research firm that analyses flight booking data confirms that vaccination is the key to rebooting international travel. The most recent research from ForwardKeys shows that destinations prepared to welcome vaccinated tourists have seen a surge in bookings.

In particular, Greece and Iceland, have had a significant uptake in inbound flights, while countries where mass vaccination is at an advanced stage, such as Israel, the US and the UK, have seen outbound bookings climb. They key point is that the world’s travel and flight industries are looking to insist on proof of vaccination or vaccine passports for the right to get on an international flight or travel beyond their borders.

Like Thailand, Greece is highly dependent on international tourism. Anxious to revive its decimated economy, the country has announced that tourists who are fully vaccinated, who have a negative Covid-19 test result, or who have recovered from the virus, are welcome to visit. The result is that the country is now the most popular destination among those summer booking holidays from the UK. According to TTR Weekly, confirmed flight bookings between July and September are 12% above what they were at the same time in 2019.

A similar trend can be seen in bookings from the US to Iceland. In March, the Icelandic government confirmed that vaccinated arrivals would face no entry restrictions, which led to a surge in bookings. Flight ticket sales shot up to 158% what they were at the same time in 2019.

Olivier Ponti from ForwardKeys says there is a clear correlation between high vaccination rates and outbound travel. In Israel, which has now vaccinated over 60% of the population, bookings for European trips have reached 63% of what they were in 2019, while in the UK, where over 52% of people are vaccinated, bookings are at 32% of 2019 numbers.

“Vaccinations appear to hold the key to reviving international travel, as countries that make clear promises to welcome vaccinated travellers are being rewarded by strong surges in flight bookings. We see a revival of confidence in outbound travel from countries where there has been a successful rollout of Covid-19 vaccines too.”

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

 

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